As sexual assault and harassment increasingly becomes a topic of discussion within the military, Fort Riley has taken measures to fully address the issue.
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general, on Wednesday was given a tour of the new Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center inside Adams Hall on post.
The new center is maintained by eight staff members including three victim advocates and a Criminal Investigation Division special agent assigned to the the Special Victim Unit. While many of these services have already been available to soldiers, this is the first time all those services have been centralized in one place.
Funk said he was proud of the execution of the center and the work the staff has put into it, but he also said it was a solution to an unfortunate problem.
“The light we’ve shined on this problem so we can stamp it out is absolutely critical,” Funk said. “We have got to take this issue and eliminate it from the services.
“I wish it wasn’t needed. I wish this wasn’t an issue. I wish we treated each other with dignity and respect the whole time. A vast majority of our soldiers do that, but we do have problems. When we do we have to address them, and this is a critical resource for victims and their families.”
The center is lead by Sgt. 1st Class Aiden Hinkley, who put together many of the new center’s protocols.
Hinkley said national training programs prepared him for the task and that he borrowed ideas from other posts, especially Fort Lewis in Washington.
“This is a one-stop shop for individual victims of harassment and assault,” he said. “They can come and speak to us whenever they need. This makes it easier for an individual victim. We’re out away from units units. We’re out from prying eyes. Instead of having to walk through a large office full of people having to ask where the SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention) people are at, we’re out here on the hill, secluded from everybody.
“This makes it easier to talk to us when a victim is going through one of the toughest things they may have to go through in their lives.”
Hinkley said the main focus of the new center is allowing victims a place to go immediately if an event occurs and that care and legal counseling can immediately be provided.
The new center has a sexual assault hotline that is available 24 hours and hours for the center run from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during all duty days.
“No one seeking help will be turned away,” Hinkley said.